The Befana comes from Barga
The Befana will soon be here tonight
From the mountains in the deep of the night
How tired is she! Surrounded by snow so white,
ice and the North Wind flight.
Giovanni Pascoli, “La Befana”, 1897
The Befana, a folkloric figure that rides a worn down broom and rewards good behavior and punishes mischief, is an old Italian tradition that is celebrated in Barga on the 5th and 6th of January of every year.
The festivities in Barga begin in the afternoon of January 5th when the Befana, with a scarf on her head and a burlap sack on her back, leaves her little wooden house in the chestnut wood of Pegnana to arrive in the historical center of the town of Barga. A charming and magical atmosphere surround the children, dressed as “Befanotto”, that anxiously await her arrival.
While singing the traditional Befana chants, the children go door-to-door along the streets of the town, in the hopes of receiving a small gift of money or sweets. The festivities continue in front of a large bonfire with young and old in costume, and concludes with the historic event at the Auditorium Theatre of the Renaissance Tuscany at the Il Ciocco where thousands of people from all of the Serchio Valley come together to dance until dawn.
On January 6th, the Befana will open the doors of her home in Pegnana to children and their families (the little home is open all year round on the weekends and can be visited by contacting the Association for the Traditions and Folklore of the Serchio Valley).
Mulled Wine, entertainment, local culinary specialties and lots of surprises are in store, including the traditional cookie called “La Befana”, prepared according to an old recipe and with special attention given to it during the Christmas season.
The scent of wood burning in fireplaces, and the genuine taste of tradition and fond memories is what the “Befana” is all about.